The legislature passed and the governor signed a bill in May of 2014 that shut down the Council Bluffs greyhound track and shifts the management of dog racing in Dubuque to the Iowa Greyhound Association. Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission administrator, Brian Ohorillko says part of the agreement set aside money to pay those who are getting out of the industry.
The commission will hear the first six “hardship” claims filed for that money at their meeting today in Council Bluffs. “The current rule allows for up to $100,000 per claim….what we have done is there is an application form for the applicants and they complete that and submit all the documentation or supporting documentation for their claim,” Ohorilko explains.
He says the commission will review a report on each claim and hear from those involved.. “We have assigned an IRGC staff member to review those claims, meet with the applicant, verify the information that is being submitted and just try to get a better understanding of each circumstance,” Ohorilko says. The IRGC staff member will make a recommendation to the commission, and then the commissioners can decided what action they should take.
“It’s up to the commission and the commission will hear from each of the applicants,” Ohorilko says. The dog tracks in Dubuque and Council Bluffs agreed to make annual payments to a fund for seven years and amounting to around $72 million to get out of greyhound racing. Ohorilko says the hardship payments are one part of the whole process.
“There is money that’s already been distributed to no-kill animal shelters that have received greyhounds from the cessation of racing,” Ohorilko explains. “There was money that was allocated to trainers and assistant trainers who are no longer in the business. There was some money allocated to trainers with the removal of equipment and other items.”
Ohorilko expects the commission to receive more requests for hardship payments, and says they’ll know more about how the process works after today’s meeting.
“This is the first time that we’r dealing with these harship claims and if turns out that there are some other questions that need to be vetted ahead of time — or maybe a different process that works better — we have that flexibility and can make those adjustments as we move forward,” Ohorilko says. Those seeking a hardship payment for the end of greyhound racing have until June 30th to file a claim.